Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Western Mediterranean Cruise: Overview

We recently returned from an enjoyable 9-day cruise of the western Mediterranean. This was our 4th cruise together (but Alexa's first) and first on Norwegian. I doubt we will go on another of their cruises after the way we were nickel-and-dimed for subpar service. However, the boat itself was fine and the itinerary was great! Tracy took literally hundreds of photos that I still need to sort through - thus, I will include them when I make posts for the individual ports/countries.

The cruise started and ended in Barcelona, which we visited on our honeymoon cruise - so we just stayed on the boat there or were at the airport. The first two stops were in Morocco: Casablanca, mostly to access the city of Rabat an hour away by bus, and Agadir. Morocco was very interesting and the people were friendly. We're both glad we went but will likely never go back. And just in case you were wondering, the movie "Casablanca" was filmed entirely in the US so we didn't recognize anything fromit.

The next two stops were islands: Gran Canaria, the largest of the Spanish Canary Islands, and the Portuguese island of Madeira. Both islands were beautiful and lush, but Madeira wowed us with its dramatic cliffs. They each also had very cute European towns with great architecture.

The final shore excursion was at the port of Malaga, in southern Spain, where we traveled to Granada. Tracy and I both wanted to stay to live in this area if we could just get all of our friends and family to come too! Before the trip, I would have said the place I wanted to live in Europe was Italy. Now, I agree with Tracy about southern Spain...

I'll post over the next few days something on each shore excursion and more on the boat itself with pictures. For a teaser, here are a couple of pictures from our two favorite places - Madeira and Malaga - and the obligatory cute picture of Alexa:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Some Random February Stuff

Well, we took our bi-monthly trip up to Orlando to visit with family and some other reason I can't quite recall...oh right, to go to some Disney Theme parks that they apparently have up there! I like the following picture because it shows four generations of my family in a curving sequential order:
Here are the obligatory face-painting pictures of Alexa (left at Hollywood Studios with her friend Liam, right at Animal Kingdom with her cousin Lucas):

The crowds weren't too bad at Hollywood Studios, although we only got to ride Toy Story one time (worth the wait!). However, Animal Kingdom was an absolute zoo! I stood in line for thirty minutes to get a pastry (surprisingly worth the wait as well!) and people kept thinking it was the line for the Safari ride - which had actually overflowed a good fifty yards beyond the roped area. Luckily, we got to the park as it opened and hit the Safari first. We were rewarded with abundance of animals. It was pretty much downhill from that point on and we decided to leave early. Truthfully, Alexa could have played all afternoon despite that typically 4-year-old whiny stage of punch-drunkenness. Tracy and I eventually got our way...